Influenza claims three lives in Snohomish County

Vaccination is the best protection against this severe flu; plenty of vaccine in the county

Press Release, Suzanne Pate, Snohomish Health District,

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — The Snohomish Health District reports three residents of Snohomish County died in recent days from the severe flu that is circulating throughout Western Washington. A Bothell woman in her 40s, an Everett woman in her 80s, and an Edmonds woman in her 80s died in late December in Snohomish County hospitals. All had underlying medical conditions.

“We may be facing the most severe flu season since 2009,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum. “I urge everyone over 6 months of age to get an annual flu shot. It’s still the best weapon we have to fight the flu strains that are circulating this year. Wash your hands often, stay home if you are sick, and cover your cough!”

Snohomish County is well supplied with flu vaccine in providers’ offices as well as community clinics, pharmacies, and the Snohomish Health District clinics. The Health District stocks about 1,000 doses of adult vaccine, and 300 doses of children’s vaccine. More is available as needed.

Dr. Goldbaum noted that this year’s vaccines appear to be well matched for the two strains of influenza A and one strain of influenza B that are circulating this year. The three strains are H1N1A, H3N2A, and B/Wisconsin. The dominant strain is H3N2, which can cause more serious illness. As of Jan. 2, a surveillance report from two area hospitals shows 52 people have been hospitalized with flu symptoms since Nov. 1 in Snohomish County.

During the 2010-2011 influenza season, we received reports of 16 persons hospitalized with influenza; there was one death reported due to influenza. During the 2011-2012 season, 39 were hospitalized and there were two deaths. Thus, in Snohomish County this season to date compared with each of the past two entire seasons, more people have been hospitalized for or died from influenza.

The Washington State Department of Health reported three deaths in December in King and Pierce counties. Lab-confirmed deaths are reportable although many flu-related deaths may go unreported because they are not lab-confirmed or tested for influenza. The CDC estimates that up to 49,000 people could die from the flu this season.

Flu shots are especially important for people at high risk for complications from the flu, including young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women and women who recently gave birth, and people with certain medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, and neurologic conditions. You need a fresh flu vaccine every year; last year’s vaccine won’t work on the current circulating strains.

Visit CDC for more information about the 2012-2013 flu season. To find flu vaccine in your ZIP code, go to the Flu Vaccine Finder page. You also can find good health tips and background about the flu at the Department of Health website.

Established in 1959, the Snohomish Health District works for a safer and healthier Snohomish County through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats. Find more information about the Health Board and the Health District at